Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Friend: Linda Rettstatt

Please join us in welcoming Linda Rettstatt, our latest Friday Friend. Linda Rettstatt likes to know what makes people tick, and she loves a good story. The combination sparked her interest in creating stories and characters that seem real and engaging. Her books have finaled four times for EPIC eBook Awards. A Pennsylvania Yankee, Linda now resides in Mississippi where she is permitted to share an apartment with her cat, Binky, (as long as she continues to bring home the Fancy Feast.) Her work is published with Wings ePress, Class Act Books, and Champagne Books.

Write from the Heart

“Sometimes you just have to lose your mind…and follow your heart.”
~ Beth Rutledge in The Year I Lost My Mind

When I wrote these words for the character of Beth Rutledge, I didn’t realize how much they meant to me. But these words capture for me the process of writing fiction. As an author, my goal is twofold: to create characters that are engaging, regardless of whether they are ‘good’ or ‘evil’, and to tell a story that resonates on an emotional level with my readers. I firmly believe good fiction comes from the heart more than from the head.

Sure, we have to know the basics, the technical aspects of writing, and the rules for story construction. I liken the process to building a house. I’ve been in houses, and then I’ve been in homes. Houses are carefully constructed, functional, and provide shelter. But a home has warmth beyond its functionality. That’s the way I view writing. I want my books to do more than entertain. I want the characters to come to life and make my readers care about them. I want to tell a story with which the reader can identify, in which she can find some element of herself and her own story. I want my book to be more than a house. I want it to be a home.

Most authors will tell you they have a file somewhere loaded with potential book ideas. Now, I’ve learned that not every idea makes a good book. An idea for a book generally comes to me in the form of a ‘what if’ question in my head. As I explore that what if, I’ll know if there is a story to be told that will be worth reading. How? Because that story will make my heart pound. It’ll make me breathe faster. It’s like falling in love. You want to be with that ‘other’ constantly, without distraction.

I’ve heard other writers suggest, “Write the book of your heart,” as if there is only one. My problem—they’re all books of my heart. I don’t know any other way to write and, if I try to take an idea and force it into a story, I’m doomed to fail. I will run out of steam and lose interest. The writing will be stiff and emotionless. As a reader, I can tell the difference between books that are written perfunctorily and books that flow from the writer’s heart. Those are the books I have a hard time putting down.

And, so, when I sit down to start a new project, I take Beth’s advice. I lose my mind…and follow my heart.

Linda Rettstatt

Back cover blurb:

M.J. Rich is about to breakup with her boyfriend and seeks the comfort of her family’s familiar traditions for Christmas in Pittsburgh. Brady Cameron plans to spend the holiday alone at a Pennsylvania ski resort, drowning his sorrows. They meet while stranded by a winter storm in the Philadelphia Airport and agree to share the last rental car available, since they are both heading west. But a blizzard forces them off the highway, and Christmas turns out to be nothing either of them expects.


M.J. elbowed her way to the departures board where flight after flight flashed a bright red Canceled. She turned her attention to one of the overhead TV screens to see a news alert: a winter storm had swept in from the northwest, dumping several inches of snow in its wake. Currently, Cleveland experienced blizzard conditions, Chicago had already been crippled with more than a foot of snow, and the storm was bearing down on the Pittsburgh area. “Oh, no.” M.J. let her shoulders drop in defeat and her purse slid down her arm to loop over the handle of the laptop bag.

From overhead speakers, Burl Ives sang, “Have a holly, jolly Christmas…”

“If you’re headed west, you may want to get to the car rental counter as soon as possible,” a male voice whispered in her ear.

Startled, she turned and looked up. “Excuse me?”

“There’s going to be a rush on car rentals. You may want to consider the option.”

“Oh. Where is the…”

He pressed a finger to his lips. “Follow me. Casually, but quickly, before everyone else gets the same idea.”

She smiled and fell into step behind him. Sandy brown hair tapered neatly at his collar. Below the leather bomber jacket, worn jeans hugged a very nice backside. She redirected her eyes to his back. He turned left and she followed, noting the signs indicating the Car Rental. A line had begun to build at each of the rental counters. Her rescuer motioned toward the shortest line and picked up his pace.

As they inched forward at the rental counter, he turned toward her. “You look familiar. How would I know you?”

“I’m on TV in Charleston, South Carolina.”

“Really? What show?”

“The news on WCL.”

“WCL, huh?”

“You know the station?”

He hesitated. “I must have seen it when I was in Charleston on business at one time or another. I’m Brady Cameron. And you are?”

“M.J. Rich.” Well, at least he remembered her face, if not her name.

“Are you headed home for the holidays?”

M.J. nodded. “My family is in Pittsburgh. You?”

“Seven Springs Resort. Holiday skiing.” He glanced toward the windows. “Too bad I don’t have my skis with me now. Looks like they might come in handy.”

She gazed out at the steadily falling flakes and her heart sank. “Oh, no. I have to get to Pittsburgh tonight. If the storm’s coming from the west…”

Brady grabbed her hand and tugged her up to the counter. “We need cars,” he said to the clerk.

“You each need a car?”


The haggard-faced man shook his head. “I’ve got one left.”

“We’ll take it.”

“What?” M.J. asked. “What ‘we’?”


Reinventing Christmas – a sweet contemporary romance
Coming December, 2011 from Champagne Books


  1. I love Friday Friends! I discover I-must-read-this-book stories, and their makers.
    Linda, I love your description of a home, rather than a house. Even the most sumptutous hotel is not like a cozy, love-filled home.

  2. Hi Linda, and welcome to HWH. I love your analogy of house and home, and agree with everything you've said about writing from the heart. Love the blurb and excerpt from Reinventing Christmas, sounds just like my kind of story - will look out for it in December!

  3. Hi Linda,

    I totally agree, it's so important to write the book of your heart.

    And apparently our hearts are alike. My new release, just out this week, is about a couple who meets at a cozy ski lodge at Christmas! (She's there after being dumped by her ex.)

  4. Thanks, everyone, for the welcome. As authors, we learn a lot from the books we read. I know when a story is coming from an author's heart and when it's an idea that's been developed into chapters. The stories from the heart always capture me and hold me captive in a different way. I want to write those books for my readers.


  5. Hi Linda, welcome (again!)! I love your writing advice--lose your mind and follow your heart. It's perfect!

    And Debra, all snow and lack of Internet, etc, made me miss your release. I'm sorry and congratulations!

  6. I love the analogy of house and home, Linda. A good book makes you feel like you could live in the story. There is nothing better than falling in love with characters!

    The excerpt was terrific.

  7. Love your overview of writing from the heart - if I can't find my heart, it's very hard to write - and such a cute story about Christmas. Love that too - judi

  8. So well put, Linda. I couldn't agree with you more. If it doesn't come from the heart, you can always tell.

  9. Hi Linda - what a lovely way to put it. And your stories are so heart-warming. Look forward to Reinventing Christmas.

  10. Thanks, everyone. I've read some of your works, too, and know that you understand writing from the heart. I stepped out to see Puss in Boots--to nurture my inner child a bit. Cute movie, especially if you're a cat person. Now I'm back, working on edits, and will be checking in here to respond to comments or answer any questions.


  11. I recently found out Reinventing Christmas will get an early release on November 15, available in ebook only at that time.


  12. Thanks, Jennifer, for hosting me here today.